The XX Factor

Nope, Scott Brown as Revenge of the Angry Voter

Sorry, Hanna , I’m going to stick with political explanations for that Scott Brown victory. I’m no Massachusetts voter, but I am that much-sought-after independent, and I’m disappointed and frustrated with the Senate right now. I wouldn’t have voted for Scott Brown, but I can see why a Massachusetts voter would have voted not against Coakley, but rather against the filibuster-proof Dem majority in the Senate. Brown may be a disaster for health care reform, but if health care reform weren’t looking like such a disaster at the moment, he wouldn’t have been able to take that seat.

The level of frustration everywhere-Republicans, Democrats and in-between-is enormous, and it comes from things like the perception that a hold-out senator can ensure that his state won’t pay for health care reform, and a general sense that whatever’s in whichever bill the House or the Senate or somebody is trying to pass now won’t really do what most voters wanted: provide (somehow) health care coverage for everyone. I’m intentionally not getting specific because I don’t think many voters did.

I talked this morning to a friend who’s active in local Democratic politics, and she put Brown’s victory down to Coakley’s failure. I think that’s a mistake, although, as Christopher Beam pointed out in Slate , without exit polls we’ll never know. But thanks to the magic of imprecise television advertising targeting, this New Hampshire resident can tell you that there’s no way any Massachusetts voter who watched, say, American Idol didn’t know what was at stake here. Those Democrats and independents knew that there was a lot riding on this for the president and the Senate’s coming agenda-and they either stayed home or they actively got up and voted no.